Step through the unassuming doors of The Museum of Cornish Life for a truly breath-taking surprise!
The museum is housed in the town’s historic Market Buildings and is spread over three floors. The thousands of objects will keep you fascinated and entertained. Watch this film to see a selection of our favourite objects.
The Museum Collection:
The museum houses one of the largest social history collections in the South West, and ranges from archaeological evidence of the earliest settlers to the Lizard Peninsula, to a fully stocked 1950s kitchen. Learn about Helston’s famous inventor, Henry Trengrouse, whose ingenuity helped to save thousands of lives at sea. Marvel at the huge 5 ton cider press, meet Henry the parrot, find out about Helston’s ancient spring festival Flora Day and see if you can spot our smallest object – made from a lion’s tooth.
History of the Museum as a Building:
Housed in Helston’s former Market House and Drill Hall, the museum building itself offers a valuable insight into the history and architecture of the town. Although the museum was founded in 1949, the building was originally designed as the town’s Market House in 1837, with two separate buildings – one for butter and eggs, the other the meat market, and retains the original sloping granite floor.
The Museum expanded into the meat market in the early 1980s, then into the adjoining Drill Hall in 1999. A suspended gallery, the Loft, was also added at this time that in turn allowed the creation of the temporary exhibition gallery.
A notable feature in front of the building is a cannon salvaged from the wreck of the frigate HMS Anson which foundered off Loe Bar in 1807. Around 100 sailors’ lives were lost in the disaster which led to the pioneering work of Henry Trengrouse, featured in the Museum’s Drill Hall.
History of the Museum:
The collection began in 1937 through the Old Cornwall Society and was displayed at points in the Guildhall. It opened as a museum, in the current building, in 1949. Previously run by South Kerrier District Council and Cornwall Council, management of the museum was taken over by the South Kerrier Heritage Trust in August 2013. The Trust is a local registered charity working with the community, and day to day work at the museum is largely undertaken by volunteers.
In 2018 the museum was renamed “Museum of Cornish Life” to reflect what is in the museum’s fabulous collection, not only to visitors, but funders too.